Israel provides intelligence on Islamic State - Western diplomat
JERUSALEM: Israel has provided satellite imagery and
other intelligence in support of the US-led aerial campaign against Islamic
State in Iraq, a Western diplomat said on Monday.
Once ‘scrubbed’ of evidence of its Israeli origin, the
information has often been shared by Washington with Arab and Turkish allies,
the diplomat said.
Israel’s Defence Ministry neither confirmed nor denied
involvement in any international efforts against the militant group. “We don’t
comment on any assistance by us, or if there is such assistance, in the fight
against ISIS,” said Yaacov Havakook, spokesman for ministry, using one of
Islamic State’s former names.
The spread of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the
insurgent group’s foreign volunteer contingent and the execution of two US
journalists have jolted Western powers into military intervention.
Israel, worried that Islamic State could eventually
reach its borders and keen to repair international ties frayed by its policies
towards the Palestinians, has offered to help.
The Western diplomat said Israeli spy satellites,
overflying Iraq at angles and frequencies unavailable from US satellites, had
provided images that allowed the Pentagon to “fill out its information and get
a better battle damage assessments” after strikes on Islamic State targets.
Israel had also shared information gleaned from
international travel databases about Western citizens suspected of joining the
insurgents, who could be potential recruits for future attacks in their native
“The Israelis are very good with passenger data and
with analysing social media in Arabic to get a better idea of who these people
are,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Underscoring Israel’s
backstage role, it is not among countries being visited by US Defence Secretary
Chuck Hagel this week as he builds the anti-Islamic State coalition.
But the Israeli-supplied intelligence would reach the
US partner “with the Hebrew and other markings scrubbed out” to avoid raising
hackles among Arabs, Turks and perhaps even the Iranian forces who also view
Islamic State as a foe, the diplomat said.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a member of Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, told a conference hosted by the
IDC Herzliya college near Tel Aviv that Israel should “build a coalition of
sanity” in which Israeli intelligence “is part of the regional effort” against
Islamic State, Lebanon's Hezbollah group and al Qaeda.